Speeches and parliamentary questions in the House of Commons in the Current SessionWhile speaking in the chamber of the House is a high profile activity for an MP, much other work is done elsewhere, in committee, as well as a large casework load for constituents.
13/06/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
13/06/13 Afghanistan: Drone strikes
13/06/13 Legal Aid Scheme
13/06/13 HMRC: Nurseries
12/06/13 Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights
12/06/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
11/06/13 Muscular Dystrophy: West Midlands
11/06/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
10/06/13 Pakistan and Afghanistan
10/06/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
10/06/13 Research and Development
10/06/13 Defence: Research
10/06/13 Pakistan: Military Bases
05/06/13 Fuel Fraud
04/06/13 Bus Services: Concessions
03/06/13 Prescriptions: Fees and Charges
03/06/13 Religious Hatred
03/06/13 Television: Licensing
21/05/13 Winter Fuel Payments
21/05/13 Ex-service Personnel
14/05/13 Cost of Living
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether UK personnel have flown unmanned aerial vehicles as part of NATO operations. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): Yes.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes his Department plans to make to the data collection process relating to compensation claims for deaths caused by drone strikes in Afghanistan. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 17 December 2012, Official Report, column 601W, to the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson).
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will meet the Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association to discuss proposals to reform the legal aid system; and if he will make a statement. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): Between 9 April and 4 June 2013 the Government consulted on a number of proposals to reform legal aid via the 'Transforming Legal Aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system' consultation. This included a proposed model of competitive tendering for criminal legal aid services. We have been clear we must continue to bear down on the cost of legal aid, including the £1 billion of taxpayers' money spent on criminal legal aid a year, to ensure we are getting the best deal for the taxpayer.
During the consultation the ministerial team and officials met with many stakeholders, and I refer the hon. Gentleman to the parliamentary question (158068) asked by the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), for a full breakdown of those meetings. It states that Lord McNally met with the Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association on 30 May 2013 for 45 minutes, along with a senior civil servant and a representative from the Legal Aid Agency (LAA).
This consultation has now closed and my officials and I will be considering the responses, including the response received from the Criminal Bar Association, with a view to publishing the Government response in the autumn.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the potential effect on parents and children who use the nursery school on the HM Revenue and Customs site at Waterview Park, Washington, of a closure of the school. 
Mr Gauke, Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury): HMRC wrote to affected parents on 7 May, inviting them to face-to-face consultations about what the impact of not re-tendering the nursery provision in three sites in the North East (Waterview Park, Benton Park View and Tyne View Park) would be on them.
Face-to-face consultation meetings were held in all three sites and parents and interested parties were invited to attend and offer their views. These impacts were noted down throughout the meetings.
A dedicated mailbox was also set up to allow parents to e-mail their questions and feedback directly. This has been monitored daily and every e-mail has been responded to.
Parents submitted a range of views. A summary of this feedback was shared with all affected parents on 10 June. This summary and a People Impact Assessment forms part of a decision paper that will be discussed by HMRC's Executive Committee on 18 June.
The impact assessments will also be used to put together a support package for parents, similar to that made available in 2012, which will be used if the decision is not to re-tender for the nursery provision in these three sites.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on parents and children who used nursery schools on HM Revenue and Customs sites which have recently been closed. 
Mr Gauke: In 2012, HMRC announced the closure of eight nurseries that were on HMRC premises. These nurseries had varying levels of occupancy and many of the nursery places were available to non-HMRC staff.
Following the announcement, HMRC put in place a series of support measures for affected parents. This included some short-term financial support, flexible working and special leave to give them time to find alternative arrangements. Members of HMRC's HR support were also on hand to support parents with agreeing what measures they needed to make use of.
The take up of these measures varied. In some cases parents found alternative nursery provision very easily and did not approach HMRC for additional support. In others they needed some support to do so.
Six of the nurseries closed in November 2012 and HMRC has not received any further requests for help from affected parents. Two nurseries, East Kilbride and Cardiff, were given a commercial lease and will continue until August 2015. These two nurseries were granted these leases as over 50% of those using them worked for HMRC. Both the nursery provider and the parents are aware of this arrangement.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent correspondence and meetings have taken place between his Department and the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights; and if he will place such correspondence and the minutes of such meetings in the Library. 
Mr Lidington, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (European issues and NATO): Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have regular contact with the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights. Letters sent by the Special Rapporteur to all Governments, including letters to the British Government, and those Governments' responses, are published in his annual Communications to and from Governments report.
I have placed his most recent Communications to and from Governments report in the Library of the House. Electronic copies can be found at:
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his international counterparts on the legal framework for attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles targeted at particular individuals. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): None.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to address the lack of a specialist neuromuscular care adviser and a specialist neuromuscular consultant in the West Midlands since the agreement of funding for those posts in March 2010. 
Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): On 1 April 2013 NHS England became responsible for commissioning specialised services, improving standards and national consistency. This is intended to guarantee equitable access to services across the country. This includes diagnostic services for adults and children with rare neuromuscular disorders.
NHS England commissions some elements of neurological services through specialist services commissioning arrangements, which includes specialised neuromuscular services.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many qualified unmanned aerial vehicle pilots are currently employed by the Royal Air Force. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): There are currently 36 Royal Air Force personnel qualified to pilot remotely piloted air systems.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has undertaken an assessment of the effects of unmanned aerial strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan on (a) the livelihoods of the affected communities and (b) the ability of the affected communities to access education. 
Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): Her Majesty's Government has not undertaken a specific assessment of the effects of unmanned aerial strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan on (a) the livelihoods of the affected communities and (b) the ability of the affected communities to access education. However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has supported opinion surveys in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas which in 2010 and 2011 included a question related to drone strikes. I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 16 May 2013, Official Report, column 392W, to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Nicholas Soames).
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Reaper and (b) Hermes 450 vehicles have crashed and subsequently been taken out of service in each year since each model came into operation. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): The numbers of Reaper and Hermes 450 Unmanned Air Vehicles that have been permanently removed from service as a result of crashes is provided in the following table:
|2013 to 1 June||0||0|
Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Watchkeeper training flights have taken place; what the location was of such flights; and what the cost to the public purse has been to date. 
Mr Dunne: Watchkeeper has made 72 training flights to date, all from West Wales airport, Aberporth.
Training flights are only one element of the wider Watchkeeper trials, evaluation and qualification programme and it is not possible to identify separately the costs of flying activities from other costs under the programme.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on research and development funding on unmanned air vehicles in (a) 2011, (b) 2012 and (c) 2013. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): Unmanned air vehicle research and development spending for the financial years (FY) 2010-11 to 2012-13, rounded to the nearest £1 million, is set out as follows:
|Financial year||£ millions|
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been allocated for research and development funding in (a) 2014 and (b) 2015. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): There is no fixed forward budget for research and development.
The Department's plans for funding research through the centralised Ministry of Defence Science and Technology Programme, under the Department's chief scientific adviser, are £410 million for 2013-14 and £435 million for 2014-15, rounded to the nearest £5 million, which meets our intention to sustain science and technology investment at a minimum of 1.2% of the Defence budget. Development expenditure is applied according to the requirements of individual projects (mostly as part of the equipment programme) and the plans for funding of the development elements of these projects are not centralised.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when and for how long any UK armed forces personnel have been stationed at Shamsi Airbase in Pakistan; and what the purpose of such personnel deployed to that base was. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): We have no records of UK armed forces having been stationed at Shamsi Airbase in Pakistan.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the Afghan Government on the future use of UK operated unmanned aerial vehicles in that country. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): The UK, and ISAF partners, have discussed the redeployment of military equipment with the Afghan Government.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the UN Mission in Afghanistan's 2012 report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, whether his Department is participating in the review of criteria required to establish positive identification and determination of status undertaken by international forces in Afghanistan. 
Mr Robathan: No.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): What steps are being taken to tackle the rise of fuel fraud in Northern Ireland. 
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mike Penning): There is no evidence that fuel fraud is rising in Northern Ireland. Published tax-gap figures show a long-term downward trend. Tackling fraud is a joint priority for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and the Northern Ireland Executive, along with tobacco smuggling.
Mr Anderson: I am surprised by the Minister's response, because that is not the information that we are being given in the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. There is a huge issue involving not just the breaking of tax laws, but the criminal activities that lie behind it, and the potential support for terrorism. Will the Minister look into the situation? Does he accept that as long as two separate types of diesel are being sold the potential for fraud will continue, and will he consider an arrangement whereby those who use straightforward white diesel are given a rebate and those who do not are subject to sanctions?
Mike Penning: I hope that I did not mislead the House by suggesting that there was any complacency about fuel smuggling, which is a serious matter. However, the original question related specifically to whether it was increasing. We are very conscious - as are the Treasury and HMRC - of the need to establish where the profits from fuel smuggling go, but the taxation issue is clearly a matter for a different Department, and I shall ensure that the relevant Minister is made aware of the hon. Gentleman's comments.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the net savings to his Department in the case that the concessionary bus pass was to be withdrawn from those pensioners currently eligible to pay income tax at the (a) higher rate of 40 per cent and (b) additional rate of 45 per cent. 
Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) (Regional and Local Transport): Government does not hold information about the rates of income tax that concessionary bus pass holders pay. Therefore I do not have an estimate of the net savings that could be achieved by means testing via individual's income tax rates. However, the cost of the concession is driven by the number of trips made, and the following tables from the National Travel Survey (NTS) show pass uptake and concessionary bus boardings made by six household income groups:
|NTS Table 1: Take-up of older person's concessionary travel pass by household income: England, 2008-10|
|Household income:||Take-up rate (%)|
|Less than £7000||79|
|£7,000 to £9,999||80|
|£10,000 to £14,999||78|
|£15,000 to £19,999||80|
|£20,000 to £29,999||73|
|£30,000 to £39,999||70|
|£40,000 or more||63|
|All household incomes||75|
|NTS Table 2: Average number of bus boardings using an older person's concessionary pass by household income: England, 2008-10|
|Household income||Bus boardings per pass holder per year|
|Less than £7000||198|
|£7,000 to £9,999||167|
|£10,000 to £14,999||122|
|£15,000 to £19,999||104|
|£20,000 to £29,999||86|
|£30,000 to £39,999||78|
|£40,000 or more||77|
|All household incomes||119|
|Notes:1. Figures are based on data from three NTS survey years combined (2008, 2009 and 2010).2. These figures do not take into consideration the concessionary travel changes which took place in April 2010 and all individuals 60+ have been included in the eligibility base for all years.|
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with his Ethiopian counterpart about the treatment of the Amhara people of that country; and if he will make a statement. 
Mark Simmonds, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): We regularly raise human rights concerns with all levels of the Ethiopian Government. In April officials at the British embassy in Addis Ababa raised with Ethiopian State Ministers the issue of displacement of ethnic Amharas from the Benishangul-Gumuz region. We obtained assurances that this had been a mistake, that the Amharas had returned home, and that the Government officials involved in the displacement had been removed from their posts and that an investigation was under way. In January our ambassador raised concerns about the implementation of the commune programme (sometimes referred to as "villagisation") in Ethiopia's developing regional states, which includes Benishangal-Gumuz, with the State Minister for Foreign Affairs. We continue to monitor this programme and follow-up allegations of abuses of human rights in the regions.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the net savings to his Department in the event that free prescriptions were to be withdrawn from those pensioners currently eligible to pay income tax at the (a) higher rate of 40 per cent and (b) additional rate of 45 per cent. 
Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): Estimates for the net revenue raised in the case that free prescriptions were to be withdrawn from those aged 65 and over currently eligible to pay income tax at 40% and 45% are shown in the following table:
|Estimated revenue raised, England, 2013-14|
|Estimated revenue raised (£ million)(1)|
|Scenario 1: Estimated revenue including behavioural elements(2)||Scenario 2: Estimated theoretical maximum revenue(2)|
|Age 65+ Higher (40%) rate taxpayers(3)||62||142|
|Age 65+ Additional (45%) rate taxpayers(3)||4||9|
|(1) These data are estimates of the number of items claimed by those aged 65+ in 2013-14, based on current prescription levels.|
(2) Scenario 1 assumes that three quarters of the population aged 65 and over would use pre-payment certificates to claim prescriptions should exemption be withdrawn. This is a more likely scenario because people in this age group generally claim multiple prescriptions and would therefore benefit from use of pre-payment certificates. The estimated theoretical maximum revenue (Scenario 2) is based, on the assumption that all those aged 65 and over would pay for prescription charges at the point of dispensing, paying £7.85 per prescription item. Note that those on lower incomes are likely to claim more prescriptions than those on higher incomes, so these estimates are likely to be over-estimates, as these calculations assume that each group will claim prescriptions at the same rate. In addition, people in this age group are more likely to have long term medical conditions and may be eligible for medical exemption certificates (MEDEX) if free prescriptions were withdrawn.
(3) To simplify these calculations, the estimates above have been applied to all those in England aged over 65 years. However, the female state pension age is being increased gradually from April 2010 to be equalised with the male state pension age by November 2018.Source:Estimates of numbers of higher rate and additional rate taxpayers are based upon the 2010-11 Survey of Personal Incomes using economic assumptions consistent with the Office for Budgetary Responsibility's March 2013 economic and fiscal outlook. Estimates of prescription items are taken from Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community, Statistics for England published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to continue support for the Tell Mama national project to support victims of anti-Muslim prejudice beyond October 2013. 
Mr Foster, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government): We have given the Tell Mama project £374,564 of funding to establish itself as a sustainable community organisation. I have been very impressed by the progress they have made in their first year of operation to monitor anti-Muslim hatred, increase reporting and ensure victims receive support. I am confident that they will be able to build on the financial foundation we provided and continue to provide this service to the community.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will estimate the net savings to her Department in the event that the free TV licence for over 75s were to be withdrawn from those pensioners currently eligible to pay income tax at the (a) higher rate of 40 per cent and (b) additional rate of 45 per cent. 
Steve Webb, Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions): I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.
The following estimates are based on Department for Work and Pensions expenditure forecasts combined with information on the tax paid by older people from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Survey of Personal Incomes.
|AME savings from withdrawing the free TV licence for those aged 75 and over from different categories of tax payers, UK|
|(a) higher rate taxpayers (40%)||20|
|(b) additional rate taxpayers (45%)||<5|
These estimates assume that the take-up of the free TV licence for those aged 75 and over is distributed equally across the tax bands. The figures are expressed in cash terms and rounded to the nearest £5 million.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the net savings to his Department in the event that the winter fuel allowance was to be withdrawn from those pensioners currently eligible to pay income tax at the (a) higher rate of 40 per cent and (b) additional rate of 45 per cent. 
Steve Webb, Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions): The estimates in the table are based on Department for Work and Pensions expenditure forecasts combined with information on the tax paid by older people from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Survey of Personal Incomes.
|AME savings from withdrawing the winter fuel payment from different categories of taxpayers|
|(a) Higher rate taxpayers (40%)||100|
|(b) Additional rate taxpayers (45%)||5|
The table provides estimates of the expenditure associated with winter fuel payments, for higher and additional rate taxpayers, assuming the payment rate of £200 for people that have reached women's state pension age and are under 80, and £300 for people aged 80 or over. The figures are expressed in cash terms and rounded to the nearest £5 million.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): What support he provides for ex-service personnel in the criminal justice system. 
The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice (Damian Green): Depending on their individual risks and needs, offenders with a military history are eligible for the full range of NOMS interventions and offender services. Many prisons have a designated support officer for veterans in custody. Often these officers have served in the forces themselves, and they provide support tailored to the experiences that veterans may have had while on active service. Several probation trusts have an equivalent role for support in the community. The MOD has also made its veterans mental health services available to ex-service men and women in custody.
Mr Anderson: Since 2008, 300 veterans have gone through the veterans treatment court system in Buffalo, New York state. Not one has reoffended. That has been so successful that 103 similar courts have been set up across the USA. Will the Minister agree to meet me and others who support this process to see whether there are lessons that we can learn from the USA and adapt for this country?
Damian Green: I would be happy to do that. As I hope the hon. Gentleman will have seen this morning, we are very open to new ideas throughout the criminal justice system, and spreading best practice is the way to reduce reoffending and in this case to help veterans.
In the House 2012-13
In the House 2010-12
In the House 2009-10
In the House 2008-09
In the House 2007-08
In the House 2006-07
In the House 2005-06
Reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO
|Promoted by Paul Foy on behalf of Dave Anderson, both of St Cuthbert's Church Hall, Shibdon Road, Blaydon, NE21 5PT|